28 November 2008

The Spirit of Mumbai

I have been watching with increasing horror, as a couple of score of terrorists held Bombay hostage - I lived in the city when it was still Bombay, and to date, cannot think of calling it by its new / old name. How many times do the people of the city have to go through this before the government and its ineffective leaders pull up their socks and do something to prevent it happening again?

With the riots, and the floods, and the blasts, and the shoot-outs, when is the average Bombayite going to feel safe in his own city? I have fond memories of living there, feeling safe as I have never felt anywhere else, travelling home from work at half past midnight, sometimes even 1 am, sometimes taking the last local from Churchgate, with only the fisherwomen for company. And I have lived in many places in India, and have worked in a couple of other cities before Bombay welcomed me into its fold.

Yet, today as I read about the 'spirit of Mumbai' I want to say but this: STOP.

It is not funny anymore. Who are you fooling with all this talk about the city's spirit? The citizens get up and go to work, and to school and to college, and about the daily business of their lives, simply because they have no option. That does not mean that you, our leaders, take us for granted! That does not mean that every time we face such heinous crimes, you pat our shoulders, talk about the spirit of Mumbai and then forget about us until such time it happens again!

Many people will continue to feel proud that the city has struggled to its feet within hours of the attack; and may be we should. But it is not enough. Where are the statesmen, the leaders, where is a person we can look up to and say 'HE (SHE) will lead us out of this mess. HE (SHE) will ensure that it does not happen again'!

What we have instead are career politicians, who will look to extract every ounce of political mileage out of the bodies of the dead, out of the blood, the sweat and the tears of the living, who will call for revenge against who knows which community or people. Where were Raj Thackeray and his Marathi manoos when Bombay needed them? They, and many others like them, lie low when the chips are down. Political opportunism cuts across party lines.

The ones who saved the day are thepolice, army and the elite commandoes, of whom a freed hostage said in fervent gratitude - "The commandoes were powerful, we felt protected for the first time since the seige began'.

Thank you, ma'am. They are our unsung heroes, ones at whom fingers of blame are pointed when something happens - very rarely are they given their due.

I salute the bravery of the men and women who have worked hard, and given their lives in the pursuit of their duty - to them I say, thank you. On behalf of this beleaguered city, my city, I feel deeply grateful.

To all who were martyred in the cause - my tears, and heartfelt gratitude - your sacrifice shall not, should not go in vain. To those who lost their dear ones, my condolences, and prayers.

© Anuradha Warrier

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